Suffering and Joy on the Dance Floor: or Dancing to Joy Division

My friend Tripp recently published a brief musing on suffering and death: it’s kind of goth. I’ve sat with the musing.  Part of what he’s wrestling with are the ways many Christians often make suffering trite by attempting to make God responsible for it ( in some way) or at least responsible for making it meaningful.  What stuck with me and what trips me up, is his having said God suffer’s and dies everyday.  I get it, but I can’t help but think this says too much, and is also a means to bring God too close, too understandable.

This was in the back of my mind as I headed out to the goth night Nocturna at the Metro, this past Saturday.  Shortly after arriving Scary Lady Sarah spun Joy Division‘s Love Will Tear us Apart.

It’s a great song, I love to dance to it.  As I was dancing to this haunting,melancholic, tortured song I was aware of the contrast between the  joy I was feeling as I danced and the pain of a failing relationship sung about in the song.  As I danced I also recalled the circumstances of Ian Curtis’ death and his own physical and mental health struggles and suffering.

Such an amazing song.  Such beauty that touches so many.  Love Will Tear Us Apart invariably fills the dance floor.

I feel there is something here.  I have great wonderment at how such beauty, joy ( even hope), come out of  expressions of pain and suffering.

As I danced I thought and prayed (for Ian Curtis, for others wrestling with their demons like he did, perhaps dancing next to me), and I observed in amazement how my awareness of  the pain of a failing relationship sung about in the song, didn’t diminish the joy in dancing to a haunting pain filled song of longing for something more.

Love Will Tear us Apart is larger than the pain of a failing relationship, Joy division and Ian Curtis’s songs inhabit a world that encompasses but is larger than Ian’s tragic story.  Even so without the pain, without Ian Curtis and his pain and suffering there wouldn’t be the music of Joy Division, nor the joy found in dancing to it, as we connect with a longing for something beyond pain and suffering.

“God suffers and dies. everyday”.

Ian Curtis’s suffering and troubled mental life wasn’t for the purpose of  my enjoyment in dancing to one of his songs more than 30 years after his death.  Even so, out of who he was and the circumstances of his life and mental state he created some amazing music, in which there is great longing and joy.  There wasn’t purpose to his suffering, but for a time at least he reached beyond pain and suffering and wove that pain into great music.  What I find in Joy Divisions songs and lyrics is longing and beauty in the midst of pain, frustration, and depression.

Things to contemplate, something contemplated in the movement of bodies on a dance floor some 30 years after the song was recorded.

“God does not give us suffering. God does not give us death.

God suffers and dies. Every day. “

Nocturna All Hallows Eve Ball, 2011

I Have been quite busy but Kate and I did make it to Nocturna for the  All Hallow’s Eve Ball, as we try to do each year.  5 years ago I wrote this Post, about Goth costumes that weren’t really costumes at the ball that year.  I had forgotten about the post and that there apparently was a great lack of creativity that year.  This year that was not the case.  The quality and creativity of the costumes this year was high both for those who entered the costume contest and overall even among those who stayed in the crowd.

I saw very few of the sorts of pseudo costume I identified in the above mentioned.   There were still some costumes where I couldn’t tell if it was a goth who just didn’t bother to wear a costume or if it was someone who wasn’t Goth who dressed like a goth to go to a goth Halloween night.

There were a number of people who did the skeleton thing which, isn’t very creative, and two Grim reaper costumes, which also not much of a stretch there for a goth club.  There were also a few people with their more or less normal Goth attire but faces painted up like Dia De Los Muertos sculls.  That was kind of fun and at least since it was the first time I’d seen that a little more creative in my book, or at least a bit of cultural fusion which can have some creativity to it.

At times Kate and I go in matching costumes.  Last year we went as  fairies, which admittedly in my taxonomy of goth costumes would fit in that grey area of only a small amount of effort using pieces that one usually or often wears to the goth club anyways.  And it is true I used a striped stretchy tux jacket that I wear on occasion .  Though neither Kate nor I wear wings to the clubs.  This year Kate was a juvenile triceratops, or in reader response some children’s TV character.  I was the Green Man.

You can find the Glitter Guts photo’s here.  Kate’s and my photos here and here, and with our friends Daniel and Clove here.

It was a fun night and one of the more interesting and creative costume Nocturna All Hallow’s Eve Ball, I have been to in a while.